Month: December 2016

2017 a Year of Colour

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Way back in 2013 my project was A Year of Black and White and this was to explore my digital black and white photography in many ways and to see what I could learn in a year. I mainly wanted to learn how to process black and white files and try to find a style that would suit me. It was a great success but as time goes by and we get older our tastes change.

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I did not think in 2017 I would be doing a year of colour !   I have been thinking about it for a while now and I have decided it’s time to give it a go. If I am asked to produce Black and White images for clients then I will do but the rest of my work will be shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom and possibly Viveza but we shall have to see how that progresses.

I would love to be able to just use Fujifilm Jpegs but I am not sure they can give me the starting point I need for a simple workflow.

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I could never have done this project with Nikon as the RAW files were such a pain for me to process and to find consistency with. I have noticed however the Fujifilm RAF files are almost where I need them to be be to create a colour style. I could be mistaken but this is what 2017 will all be about.

So on the 1st of January 2017 I will start the project and it will finish on the 31st of December 2017, I have not quite decided where I am going to start putting the images apart from social media as I hate mixing black and white and colour so I need to think about this over the next couple of weeks.

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I hope to come out of 2017 with a more consistent colour workflow and a more interesting colour style. I also want to explore Colour Street photography through my own eyes.

Black and White Street photography has always been an amazing storytelling medium and I have always found colour quite annoying, but as I get older its growing on me.

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My colour work has always been a bit abstract and a little loud and I have toned that down for people but that means I have fallen into the trap of pleasing the viewer and not myself. Its now time to change all that and work out what works for me.

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I am quite looking forward to it and in a way it’s quite exciting and as with my Year of Black and White I will have the RAW files in 2018 if I need to process any images into black and white.

One of my favorite Street Photographers is Saul Leiter and I know his style has inspired me so now I need to explore colour for myself and see where it takes me.

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Why Fuji ?

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I know what you are thinking, a Fujifilm UK Ambassador talking about Fuji but you need to take the time to get to know me before you make that judgement and also understand the way I have been brought up to know that I would not support a brand that I didn’t 100% believe in.

My star sign is Libra, so I naturally take my time to make a balanced decision on my purchases most of the time and don’t jump from one brand to the other.

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I am 54 years old next year so come from a generation that did not throw things away and wanted purchases to last forever and give value for money. I saved up for two years to buy my very first self funded camera and that was a Nikon Fm2. The research time that went into that purchase was probably about three months before the saving started. I ended up with a pair of Nikon Fm2s and I still have one to this day. So my brand choices are based on a lot more than you think. After that initial purchase I was then with Nikon for over 40 years. My purchasing decisions on any item are based on quality and longevity.

 

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You’d be surprised to hear then that contrary to everything I know, I have recently made an error in my recent purchase of mobile phone moving away from Apple to Samsung and it’s got to be the worst move I have ever made! A recent comment on Facebook when I mentioned this was “but you need to take the time to go into all the settings and change it to exactly how you want it and at least with Android you can do that”.  Great comment but when I buy a front door for example, I want to go out and come back in, I want it to open and shut without having to spend hours adjusting it! Lets say I am struggling with this Samsung front door!  One thing Apple have got right is that they make a premium product that just works. Why did I change my phone ? I changed because my iphone 6 got slower and slower with every ios upgrade. Thinking that the answer was to purchase a new phone, an  iphone 7, I discovered that there was no 64 gig, I would have had to spend more money to get 128gig  and that annoyed me so I was persuaded by the sales assistant to try the Samsung S7. The S7 is fast, has a good camera and has a few good functions but the apps that I use most and the way my email works just aren’t working for me on the S7.  Hence  I will be moving back to an iphone as soon as possible and losing a lot of money in the process. Note to self, do my own research and make an informed decision, don’t change a formula that to date has served me well.

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I rarely make many rash, mood driven decisions like that they are normally well thought out over a period of time. The decision to change from Nikon to Fujifilm I have shared before but for those who don’t know this is my Fuji story.

I was getting fed up with the size of the DSLR system and also the massive price increases every year, I was shooting mostly with a pair of Nikon D3s bodies and a full selection of pro glass. These things are not small and to hold one in your hand all day takes it’s toll on your fingers and shoulders. I was hoping Nikon would eventually make something more suitable but as time went on I realised this would  not happen. My research started and I looked around for an alternative,  a new brand that would work for me and the way I shoot or a brand I could adapt myself to.

This was not easy, I am old school and to me Sony and Samsung just meant Music Systems and not quality photography equipment. I looked at the Sony NEX one of the first ever models and it was getting great reviews for the camera and sensor but the lenses were not receiving the same feedback. I used to shoot lot’s of Stock back then and had to use cameras that were on the recommended list, the Sony was not on the list. I did notice a X100 on the list but the reviews were not putting the X100 in a good light. I continued to do my research for about four months after the X100 was released. I was back and forth with Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and all the time had my fingers crossed that Nikon would bring out a decent Mirrorless Camera.

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In the end I found an X100 on ebay, it was going at a reasonable price and so I purchased it. I was blown away by the image quality and the way you could produce such amazing black and white images in only a few minutes in Lightroom. I then realised the reviews and reports on this camera were all written by people that had not really given this camera a chance. It was not the fastest camera in the world, it was no match for the Nikon D3s but it did stop me in my tracks and make me slow down and think. I did have an X10 about this time but this did not work for me, another ebay purchase but I was unlucky enough to get one with the orb problem so sold it on.

My Fujifilm Journey had really started and it was with the X100. Change came and the images I was shooting with the X100 were getting noticed more and more on Social Media and also through my projects more so than all my other work. It really is all about the image, it always has been and for some reason the X100 was forcing me to slow down and see the world in a different way that I can’t quite put my finger on, thinking  outside the box and producing more interesting work. I guess shooting Street as well it was such a small form factor camera that no one noticed it and this was a big bonus. I remember going out for two days in a row one with the D3s and one with the X100 and no one even looked at me with the X100, this was the breakthrough moment.

My Nikon gear had some faults and was in need of a Service so on a trip to Wales I popped in to Cambrian Photography to drop off all my Nikon Gear to be sent to Nikon for a service. I got talking to Sarah about the X100 and she had the XPro1 in stock which I purchased the with the 18mm and 35mm lenses. I decided that if I could make this camera work for me I would sell all my Nikon gear and change brand.

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I was shooting at the Liverpool International Music Festival at the time and took the Xpro1 along to give it a try ! It was slow and not a DSLR, I was shooting with  the Press pack and when I got back home all my images shot on the D3s were the same as the rest of theirs and the only difference was mine were black and white. But the few shots I got on the XPro1 that day had a little more thought go into them. That was it I decided to sell all my Nikon DSLR gear and move over to Fuji Mirrorless !

Selling my Nikon gear also funded a trip to Venice. Not only was it simple for Airport security but I actually found myself enjoying my photography again. The XPro1 was slow to focus and not that easy to get used to, it was almost like going back to film but I was producing better work than I had for a long time. I was falling in love with photography again.

It was through my images that Fujifilm UK started to take an interest in my work and I started to build relationships with some of the Fujifilm Team.

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The Fuji X System being so new there was some serious gaps in the X System in terms of Cameras with a decent focus system for Wildlife and Sport and not a very large selection of lenses.

The team in Japan were few in number and had already been shocked by the support of the professional photographers around the world for their product. So much so that they actually listened  to what we had to say. They actually took notes in meetings and made changes to the cameras and lenses based on what we had to say.

I was impressed with the whole way Fujifilm worked with its team and customers and one night came up with the the idea of Fujiholics, one big Fuji family of like minded people that wanted to get together and talk about their love of the Fujifilm Camera Systems.

As time went by I started buying more and more lenses and updating my camera bodies. I was then asked for more feedback by Fujifilm and eventually asked to be an X Ambassador and this was all down to my images and love of the brand. I had made a huge decision to move from Nikon to Fujifilm and also spent a lot of money changing over. I also had to play the waiting game for the X System to catch up with lenses and faster AF bodies.

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It takes time for a big company like Fujifilm to notice you and even longer for you to build trust. I was asked to test and produce a set of images with the XPro2 before its launch and for this I would receive an XPro2 which came with my name on it! That was a proud moment for me. As a Fujifilm Ambassador I talk for Fujifilm and use exclusively Fujifilm cameras systems only. I am lucky enough to be able to borrow Fujifilm lenses and Cameras on short time loan and to be able to take their camera systems to events and talks.

Working hard is an understatement at times in this industry, my friends can vouch for that and my Fiancee Jane has got used to the amount of time we communicate by text or phone from hotel rooms.

I would not have it any other way, I love photography and I love my job it is the job I dreamed of as a little boy and Fujifilm have backed me all the way pushing me out of my comfort zone out on to the stages at The Photography Show and the support from the X Photographers has been outstanding these guys have become friends for life.

 

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I do believe the Fujifilm XPro2 and now the X-T2 are both game changing camera systems and the new GF50s is also going to make the MF system more accessible for more pockets. I also love the Fuji Glass and still love to shoot with it and prefer it to my old Nikon pro glass.  I believe Fujifilm offer me the image quality I need to get the job done. It’s a bonus that the Fujifilm Team around the world are an amazing bunch of hard working people who are dedicated to the brand and that all the X Photographers are amazing people too. On top of that the Fujiholics are also a fantastic bunch of people and through the photowalks I have made some friends for life. I cant wait to see what Fujifilm have up their sleeves for the future and just love being part of the family.

 

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Why Fuji? Well it all started with the X100 I wonder where we will go next…….?

 

 

 

 

Why Street?

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One of the most common questions I get asked is “How did you get into Street Photography ? ”

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I guess the simple answer is by accident, I didn’t  even know I was shooting Street until about eight years ago.

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I was given my first camera about the age of eight and living in a big city I guess I have always taken pictures of people on the street. I have also photographed just about every genre of Photography there is. At one time I was known as the photographer that could shoot anything. I guess this label was true and I could shoot just about anything. It’s part of being a professional photographer you soon learn to shoot what will pay the bills and you get better and better as a photographer the more strange situations you find yourself in.

I have always tried to separate my passion from my work and with some of the jobs I have had outside of photography industry this was easy. The trouble with being a professional photographer is how do you separate your passion from your day to day photography. This was a struggle at first especially as I am so busy with work but now I have found the simple answer. Only talk about and shoot what I am passionate about and turn the rest down !!

So why Street Photography ? I guess it’s all about people watching. I have always been a people watcher, every occupation I have ever had, I would spend my lunch breaks and spare time watching people in towns and cities.  This then turned into trying to capture those special little moments as with the right light. I shot a lot of people in the street and most of what the images were bland and boring and did not tell much of a story although I found it relaxing and great fun. I did get through a lot of rolls of film and did not have a lot to show for it, but it got me out in the fresh air.

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I have spent quite a bit of time shooting portraits and headshots and spent some time shooting glamour in a studio and found that type of work where you set up the shot with perfect light and perfect people to be too contrived. I wanted more excitement.  Instead of using the holy trinity of photography Light, Composition and Moment in the Studio I wanted to go out and look for it on the Streets. Quite mad you might think and yes at times I get very frustrated by the simple fact there is no light, I cant get the composition right and the moment never comes. This was compounded  by the fact I am a Candid Street Photographer so will never compromise and set up a shot. I can’t change the dynamic in the scene it just doesn’t sit right with me. I have thought about it many times when working on project for big companies but just can’t do it.

I have shot Candid Street for years without knowing that it was Street Photography, the image below was part of my early windows project back in 2009 in Tunbridge Wells. It was a couple of years before this image was taken that some of my friends started calling me a Street Tog and I did not take any notice. I just thought they were naming me for what I liked to shoot. But the name started to stick and make me wonder so I started looking in to Street a properly around 2012-2013 but after looking at some of the amazing work of the masters felt my work was just ordinary.

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However I decided to read up on Street Photography and check out the masters of Street and other modern Street Photographers. It’s about then I worked out I was probably a Candid Street Photographer. In 2013 I did a ‘Year of Black and White’ project and off the back of the project I was asked to do some talks about photography and from there the workshops came and I started teaching Street Photography and Black & White editing.

The funny thing is at the time I was still not sure what I was doing was right !! Then a friend of mine gave me a book by David Gibson The Street Photographer’s Manual   This was a breakthrough moment as I agreed with 95% of the book and then realised this was how I was teaching so thought to myself I must be doing something right ! Thanks David for writing a great book and Elaine for giving me the book.

I still don’t see myself as a Street Photographer yet, I feel I have a long way to go and one day hope to finish a project that I am really happy with and take one amazing Street image. I guess some of my work won’t be relevant for 50-100 years but I love what I do and can’t wait to get stuck in to my next project..

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My First Camera

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Fujifilm X-T1

One of the biggest questions most professional photographers get asked this time of year is “what camera should I buy my son or daughter for christmas”  we also get given a budget, some far too low but for the majority the figure is £500-£800. Below that figure there are some great little cameras about but they will not last long and the sensors are not up to helping your kids to progress, so in my view it’s a waste of money.

These days everyone thinks in terms of the DSLR is the camera to aim for but this is not the case. People ask me do I get a bridge camera then get a DSLR in a few years time?

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People don’t understand how Mirrorless cameras have taken over from the DSLR in the last few years and just how great they are. I myself only use the Fujifilm X Series Mirrorless cameras for my professional work and most of my professional friends also use the Fujifilm X Series, not many people I know are using DSLRS.

Most parents go in to a shop and say “I am looking for a DSLR” but in fact they are looking for a camera and they just call it a DSLR. The sales assistant then goes in to overdrive to sell a DSLR, the parents can’t afford it and they go home to buy something from Amazon.

My advice this year has been to look out for great offers on the mirrorless cameras as this is a great starting point. You can pick up older models of the Fujifilm X Series like the X-T10 and the X-T1 at amazing prices and these camera bodies will be perfect for School, University and for any workshops or courses. The exposure triangle is on the outside of the camera and the sensors are a 1.5 crop the same as most of the DSLRs in there price range. This way instead of buying a compact or bridge camera that you throw away in  six months you have started to invest in a system. You can then go on to investing in lenses for birthdays and Christmas and eventually upgrade the body in a few years time.

There have been some amazing deals on the X-T10 and X-T1 over the last few months in UK retailers and this is where people should look for a bargain. I was talking to a guy last week who did a trade in and got double cash back and got an X-T10 for £290 ! All he had to do was buy a lens of his choice, he got a 18-55mm with cash back and is now wrapping it up for his son for Christmas.

I have used both of these cameras professionally and all the images on this blog were taken with these bodies and a variety of lenses. I mainly shoot Street Photography in black and white but in this post I have included a few colour images and some other genres of photography.

So my advice for Christmas or birthdays is look for bargains in Mirrorless Cameras even if it’s last year’s model your kids will thank you in the long run and you wont have wasted money on a camera you will throw away.

I bought both my Sons Fujifilm X-T10 kits with 18-55mm lenses last christmas and they both love the cameras.

My first camera was given to me by my parents and it was a 35mm Film Camera that was the camera that made me fall in love with photography. I then saved up for two years to buy my first Nikon FM2, I used that camera for over 20 years. So I think it’s important to choose very carefully for your kids. If my parents had got me the wrong camera at the start I might not have fallen in love with photography the way I did.

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